Last week I wrote a post with three reviews of Christian books that I’ve been reading since Easter with the promise of another post to follow, so here it is! I’ll dive straight in with three more quick-fire book reviews.
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
DeYoung never claims that this book is meant to be a solution to the problem of busyness (he’s pretty honest about the fact that he struggles with it himself); what it actually functions as is more of a guide to the symptoms of busyness, helping the reader to identify whether or not they’re struggling with it. I have to say, on one level, this book isn’t actually that helpful. If someone’s bought it then it’s probably because they know they’re busy or they want to give it to someone who is – i.e. the reader most likely already knows. That said, DeYoung does help in identifying different kinds of busyness, in inviting the reader to examine their life a bit and to see where the problem is coming from. So in that respect it’s useful, but given that there aren’t any real solutions offered, the book only really seems to go halfway.
I don’t know, maybe I’m being unfair. After all, my life is not especially busy, at least at the moment, and I picked the book up more out of curiosity than anything. It may be the case that, if you are very busy, you could gain a lot from taking some time out and reading this book. Even so, given my own experience, although I recognise the purpose that it could have, I wouldn’t be particularly quick to recommend it to someone.
The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel has made a name for himself in the world of Christian apologetics. His first book in this series, The Case for Christ, is brilliant, and a fantastic resource to give to new believers and those still on the journey. The Case for a Creator is, in my opinion, weaker, but it is still useful for working out a position on science and faith, and The Case for Faith is a handy look over some of the bigger spiritual or moral issues that people have with Christianity.
So where does The Case for Grace come into this? Well, like all the other books, Strobel is investigating the evidence for God, but this time he comes at it from the angle of personal testimonies. The book is a collection of interviews with people who have all experienced the grace of God in one way or another. One of the book’s biggest strengths is in the variety of the people who tell their stories. There’s the story of a man from Cambodia’s communist regime, a girl abandoned by her family and then adopted, a church pastor who fell into adultery, and more. The variety of people included shows just how far God’s grace goes, and how he can work in every situation.
The book was also a very easy read, as Strobel’s other books tend to be. He’s a gifted writer and it shows. The thing that you need to be aware of with this book is its audience. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t absolutely stunned, because, I think, I’m not the book’s intended audience. This book is for people searching for God, for people who need evidence of God’s work in the world today, or for Christians more generally struggling with their own faith. For that kind of audience, I can imagine that this book would have a much more profound impact.
Planetwise by Dave Bookless
Out of all the book’s I’ve reviewed in these two posts, this is the one that was the most ‘out there’ for me. I’ve never read a Christian book about environmental issues, so I had no idea what to expect and nothing to compare it to. The book seems to be pitched largely as a challenge to Christians to see that the environment is important to God and that there is a Biblical precedent for being environmentally conscious. Bookless is more concerned with the theology of environmental concern in this book, as opposed to talking much about the science or about the practical outworkings of living a ‘green’ life, which is fair enough given the size of the book.
It is clear that Bookless is a man who is very passionate about this issue. He argues with emotional force as well as reasoning, which I think is necessary when you’re dealing with an issue that you want readers to be able to engage with emotionally as well. I know that the book opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn’t considered before, such as where creation as a whole fits into the fall and redemption narrative of the Bible, rather than it being all about humans. I did feel that, at times, Bookless went further than I would personally be comfortable with in his interpretation of certain passages (such as where he talks about the link between land and salvation), but on the whole, I was impressed by the way that he brought relevant Bible passages to show why this issue is something that Christians need to be concerned about.
This is a book that I really enjoyed, even if I didn’t always agree with it, and one that has given me a lot of food for thought in its bold challenge to think about the environment in a God-centred, fall/redemption kind of way. I would recommend it to any Christian who wants to learn more about this sort of issue.